The announcement by Hamilton Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins that he would ask council to place the LRT issue on the ballot in the 2018 election triggered a backlash from LRT supporters. Mayor Eisenberger was quoted as saying he “wished we could stop playing games on this.” City Manager Chris Murray obtained a legal opinion from staff that any move to kill LRT between now and the 2018 election would trigger a reconsideration of council’s approval of a Memorandum of Agreement with Metrolinx which has allowed the current route planning to proceed. A reconsideration vote would require a two thirds majority of council. Ward Eight councillor Terry whitehead countered by releasing a tape and transcript of the February 3rd meeting at which council Ok’d the MOA , which shows councillors being told the agreement was non-binding. Eisenberger is seen speaking to staff saying, “just for the benefit of all of us i think … you can clarify this is NOT the final agreement. This is the memorandum of agreement that leads us to a memorandum of understanding which is … a much more detailed specific… and varied … agreement which will spell out in terms of the details of where we’re headed. Can you clarify that?” Staff: “So you are quite right. This is an agreement on how we’ll work together and in fact it’s a non-binding agreement except for the issues of confidentiality that occur within this. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. “
Mayor: “So there is more to come i guess is the point that this is not the final piece in terms of the agreements that we have to pursue …”
An informal nose count of council members declared and leaning on the issue suggests a reconsideration vote would fail to gain the 11 votes needed . It still leaves unanswered the political fallout both in Hamilton and Queens Park of overturning on a procedural technicality the wishes of a majority of council and the constituents they represent. Ward Seven councillor Donna Skelly, an LRT opponent, says she believes there are nine councillors, and possibly ten either opposed to the project or at least wanting to see the agreement with the province re-opened to consider allowing for a city-wide transit program. “This is so far from being a community building exercise,” she said, “look how ugly it’s become.”—a reference to some of the online chatter that has regularly taken aim at her and Councillor Terry Whitehead. She also criticized Eisenberger, for suggesting during the 2014 campaign that he was open to letting a citizen panel decide the issue; but instead lobbied Premier Wynne for LRT cash before the panel was established. She said she hoped her fellow councillors who have not declared publicly on the issue would speak their minds soon.

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